With the coronavirus and the bad flu season, and our personal mundane nonsense (we’re moving across town), I don’t think we’re going to have much time to really celebrate this equinox with any of our pagan community, and I was thinking on that, and feeling the need to strengthen community ties from a distance, when this prayer sort of wrote itself as I fell asleep. So I jotted it down, and made a few minor edits, and now I’m sharing it with all of you! If you feel moved to do so, please light a candle and read this prayer aloud on the equinox or at your personal celebration. I’ll be lighting a green candle (if they’re not all packed away!), though you could use yellow, or even just white – whatever feels most appropriate to you.
Prayer for the Spring Equinox
There’s a stirring in the breeze Spring is arriving on wing and leaf It is time to plant our seeds They are Hearty and Hale in their sowing As we are Whole and Well in our growing We emerge from our winter cocoons And reaffirm the connections between us Hail to the Folk around us Hail to the Folk farther away Hail to gods, spirits, ancestors Hail to the Spring, today!
The Equinox is the Feast of the Vanir in our home practice, and while we celebrated with friends yesterday and hailed them at a blot, I would still like to share the original prayer I wrote, in the same format as other prayers I’ve shared recently. Feel free to use this at your own home celebration!
The Autumn Equinox has arrived, And the nights are now as long as the days The last of the fruits of the earth are ripening And the harvest is well underway!
The days are still warm and the leaves still green But the nights are beginning to cool Here we are at the balance – Mid Autumn Equinox, between the Midsummer and Midwinter Solstices!
And on this day, we honor Freyr and Freyja, Beloved deities of Vanaheim, and all their kin Come to us now, and join our celebration! We offer you food, drink, and merriment!
We ask in return for your blessings, Help us to harvest what we planted in the spring.
Freyr and Freyja, Hail and Welcome!
Original Prayer by Aleja Nic Bhe Chuille
It was a two hour drive northeast to the friend’s house, as we’ve both moved farther away from where we lived when we first met, and that distance is no easy feat with a toddler who hates car rides. Up was not too bad – down home was much worse as we were hours past his usual bed time. Still, the gathering of friends I have not seen in too long was much, much needed. And that got me to thinking about community, which came up as a theme in the blot.
I spent a long time as a solitary witchy pagan animist something, barely aware of a wider community, until I happened across an ADF Druid grove in Baltimore the last few weeks of 2012. Scott and I both found community there for a while, but the distance became too much as other parts of our life solidified and we stopped going in early 2016. That autumn we met the members of the Fellowship Beyond the Star for the first time at Pagan Pride festivals, and we attended some of their meetings as time allowed – though as I moved into my second and third trimesters we got out of the house less and less, and then for the first three months after the Acorn was born in May we did hardly anything at all but take care of the baby, eat, and sleep.
Still, when we emerged from that cocoon, we found the Fellowship community very welcoming, and we also started attending our local UU church, which soon had a fledgling pagan study group. We were putting down roots, finding community around us both physically locally and also in nearby pagan area groups. We still had friends in Baltimore, but that became more connected by social media and less by actual in-person meetings. That doesn’t make those connections seem less valid, though – they can provide plenty of different kinds of support, even though it’s a bit too far for a “whoops I need a ride to urgent care” call.
Now, both local pagan groups (The Fellowship Beyond the Star, and Fox & Fungi at UUCR) have grown some, and I find myself in organizational roles in both. I’ve begun teaching workshops in the local community, and even down in Atlanta this past July. Acquaintances met at community events are becoming friendships, and I begin to see how my small groups might join in networks with other groups to form woven communities, providing the support we all desperately need.
The Autumn Equinox, the middle of fall in my seasonal paradigm, is a time of harvest and in an agricultural community it would also be a time of the community coming together, pitching in to make sure everything was getting set for winter. It’s a time to check in with those local to you, but also with wider ideas of community in this technologically connected age. For my husband’s Jewish relatives and ancestors, it is also time for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, a time to mend bridges and reconnect. We try to continue some of those traditions in our home as well, so there will be apples and honey on my kitchen table soon. For many people this is also when the school year seems to finally be properly underway, with everything settled from the first whirlwind of Back-to-School.
In my work with the Fair Folk, this is also usually the time when the Wild Hunts and Fairy Rades begin. I’ve been learning that the acronychal rising of the Pleiades happens around the Equinox, and that feels significant, though I’m still not sure what exactly that means for my personal practice. I mentioned that this is the Feast of the Vanir for us, and while Freyr and Freyja are usually my focus, with Njord and Nerthus included as well, I also deliberately include the alfar of Vanaheim, whom I believe to be culturally distinct from the beings of either Alfheim/Ljossalfheim or Nidavellir/Svartalfheim. I try to spend a bit of time around this day with my allies there, checking in and just enjoying their company. So far I haven’t attempted to join their seasonal celebrations, but perhaps this year I will ask. Perhaps they can help bring me clarity about the timing of the Pleiades and the Hunts.
Autumn is underway. Communities are pulling together. And Samhain will come faster than we expect.
So, I decided to stick to the dates I’ve been using since they hadn’t changed the last few years, and instead I’ll just be adjusting by looking up Sirius’s rising time every leap year. It’s much easier that way, since I use other dates in the Kemetic calendar (really, amalgamation of plural calendars) for other celebrations now, and there’s evidence that some of those plural calendars used leap days just like we do, tacked on to the beginning of the Epagomenal Days. It’s a good way for me to keep the secular calendar and my Kemetic calendar aligned.
The Wep Ronpet date, therefore, was August 7th, and my Epagomenal Days started on August 2nd, with Wesir (Osiris). As in previous years, I set up digital votive offerings on my tumblr e-shrine, and I also offered a glass of cool water. I then pulled a tarot card for a message from each of the deities.
Wesir (Osiris)’s message on Aug 2 was: 8 of Wands. Figure out what your goals are, and then go get them! The Netjeru have your back. Decide what you want to bring into being, and use this new year energy to make it happen!
Heru-Wer (Horus the Elder)’s message on Aug 3 was: 6 of Swords. Take advantage of this time of transition. Use it as a rite of passage. Leave things in the past that no longer serve you – you don’t need to take all your baggage forward with you.
Set (Seth)’s message on Aug 4 was: 6 of Cups. Reflect on your happy memories of the past year, and give some thought to your mom harmonious relationships. See if you can turn over a new leaf at Wep Ronpet.
Aset (Isis)’s message on Aug 5 was: Queen of Swords. Do not shy away from sharpness, when it serves you. Communicate clear expectations and boundaries, and hold them. Separate the truth from illusion, and uphold ma’at (justice/right living).
Nebthet (Nephthys)’s message on Aug 6 was: 2 of Pentacles, reversed. Take this new year as a chance to restructure your life, to reorganize your priorities, and to take stock of places you may be overcommitted. Too many commitments will lead to burnout. Find balance.
On Wep Ronpet, I did a red paper execration, where I wrote things I wished to be rid of on a piece of red paper, folded it into an origami snake, declared it to be A/p/e/p/, and then ritual destroyed it with blades and fire. (Scissor blades, if you must know, haha.)
After that, I offered a shot of chocolate dark beer to the Netjeru (all the gods) and opened the package that was waiting for me!
My shrine upgrade this year is this ancient-style ceramic oil lamp with red glaze that I commissioned from a friend-of-a-friend. It’s going to take the place of the (tiny) candle I’d been using in my Bright Moon rituals, and I’m so excited to use it later this month!
I’ve also set up a separate Ko-Fi for donations to my Shrine to Bast and Sekhmet, so I can more easily earmark funds and keep them separate from my business income. If you appreciate my Bright Moon Omens, or just want to help, check it out here!
Lughnasadh season is busy in our house because it also usually coincides with the start of the Kemetic Epagomenal Days, and this year it also coincided with my return to Priestessing for the Morrigan.
This year, our main ritual was celebrated with the Fox and Fungi group at our local UU Church, which I co-led with another group organizer. We did a druidic style ritual based on a liturgical outline I’ve devised for the group, which sort of splits the difference between Wiccan ritual structure, UU service structure, and the ADF Core Order of Ritual that I became accustomed to when I was previously a member of an ADF Druid Grove. (Yes, those work together better than you might think!) We called upon Lugh and Tailtiu as the deities of the occasion, and a friend and very good storyteller regaled us all with her version of Tailtiu’s story. Our main working was done with leaves placed in baskets. We each had two leaves. On one, we wrote something we were good at or something we’d accomplished that we were proud of. On the other, something we hoped to learn to do, or something we hoped to achieve. As we listened to musical accompaniment, we each came up to the altar to put our leaves each into the appropriate basket. Later, the leaves were taken outside to our ritual space.
It was nice to be with our community, but it did mean that our home observance went largely undone – I wrote a prayer and Scott poured Lugh and Tailtiu each out a shot of whisky, but we didn’t do a large family dinner. I’ve copied the prayer below, for those interested.
Lughnasadh has arrived, And the days begin to grow shorter Fruit is ripening on branch and vine And grains are golden in the fields
Summer heat still hangs in the air But we have begin the harvest We are standing on the cusp of autumn And soon the nights will be chill
On this day we honor Lugh and Tailtiu His foster mother, who cleared the land So that the people might plant grain She gave her life for her people’s needs
Come to us now, and join in our celebration! We offer you food, drink, and merriment! We ask in return for your blessings: Help us to bring in the first fruits of our labors
Midsummer, for us, is a celebration of Manannan and Fand. Last year we got down to the waterfront, but this year we stayed closer to home. We made a simple offering of an apple, some cheese (we were having grilled cheese for dinner), a fruity summer alcohol, and their candle, placed on our table and lit.
After dinner, we went to our plot in the community garden a few blocks away, where I *finally* got the weeding done (we’d had an explosion of something I didn’t manage to identify earlier), and did a bit of gathering. I brought home this mugwort and lavender to dry, along with a few other herbs, all harvested with a ceramic knife.
This is also an important time for the Fair Folk, and it does seem that whatever carnival shenanigans were going on earlier this summer are now over, and I’m a bit relieved.
I’m not exactly sure why I needed to harvest these herbs on Midsummer’s Day as the day waned, or what exactly I’m meant to do with them, but the ingredients seem to be a dreamwork blend of some sort, and I’m sure I’ll figure it out. I got a nudge, and I followed it. Story of my life, really. I do most of my witchcraft by intuition, trusting that I’ll figure it out as I learn by doing. Sometimes it all becomes clear later, when someone pops into my life, desperately needing something I made months earlier and then stashed in a cabinet!
The Spring Equinox itself (ie, the 20th) I didn’t do much except start a spell for a client that required full moon water. The following day, we went out to dinner with family who’d come in town for a business trip and had some time to visit. We went to an Afghani restaurant, and I had ordered a dish with lamb in honor of the season.
On the following Sunday, we had originally planned to take part in a ritual run by a fellow member of Fox and Fungi at our local UU church, but it was a tough week with a few unavoidable late nights and my chronic illness was not being kind. So instead, all we did this year was our little family dinner.
In our hearth cult, the Spring Equinox is Arianrhod’s Feast Day, and last year I shared a prayer I wrote for the occasion. We used that prayer again, and made the same meal, though this year I didn’t dye the eggs, and we managed to get the leeks and garlic all the way mixed in, haha! One of these years I swear I’m going to manage to get it all done on time, and make some Welsh Cakes, too.
I’ll probably need to start more than a day ahead on some of it, but it’s such a busy season! I started a bunch of seedlings in the days between the first quarter and full moon, and I was getting my raised beds all set up for the spring planting I’ll do next month. (We’ve still got a few frosts before it’ll be safe to direct-sow.)
Hopefully you all had a lovely Equinox, whether Spring like here, or Autumn in the southern hemisphere!
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This year for Imbolc, we helped to organize a ritual at our local UU church. At home, our deities of the occasion are Cailleach and Brigid, and the group agreed to honor them for our ritual. We used a shortened version of the ADF creation of sacred space and ritual center, honoring of the Hallows (Fire, Well and Tree), the Kindreds (Shining Ones, Ancestors, and Nature Spirits), and a short meditation to help us connect to the space between the worlds.
Then we invoked the Cailleach and Brigid. Another participant read a prayer they’d found called “Prayer to Brigantia, Keeper of the Forge“, by Patti Wigington, substituting “Brigid” for “Brigantia”. I wrote a poem for Cailleach following the same pattern, and Scott read it during the ritual. I’ve reproduced both, below.
We also tied raffia to pussywillow branches for our hopes and intentions for the spring, similar to cloutie ties, and we sang Kelianna’s song Brighid’s Flame together.
It was a simple ritual, but poignant for many of the participants, and it’s proof that we can pull something together in less than a week. Still, I think we’re going to plan farther ahead for the Spring Equinox!
Imbolc Prayer for Cailleach, by Aleja Nic Bhé Chuille
Hail, Cailleach! Bringer of ice and snow,
She who blankets the world in white,
She who freezes the world so time seems to slow,
She who encourages us to rely on each other,
She who is called the Blue Crone,
And teaches us the true meaning of survival.
Hail, Cailleach! Queen of Winter,
She who frosts the ground with her staff,
She who dropped rocks and made mountains,
She who shaped valleys and hills,
She who flies over the land as a great winter storm.
Prayer for Brigantia, Keeper of the Forge, by Patti Wigington
Hail, Brigantia! Keeper of the forge,
She who shapes the world itself with fire,
She who ignites the spark of passion in the poets,
She who leads the clans with a warrior’s cry,
She who is the bride of the islands,
And who leads the fight of freedom.
Hail, Brigantia! Defender of kin and hearth,
She who inspires the bards to sing,
She who drives the smith to raise his hammer,
She who is a fire sweeping across the land.
[Feel free to use my prayer to Cailleach for your own rituals, with proper attribution!]
This month’s Bright Moon coincided with the beginning of a two-part holiday, called “The Eye Wanders” and “She is Led Back”. The first takes place I Peret 19-21, which for me here is December 23-25. The second part is I Peret 28-II Peret 4, which for me here is Jan 1-7. Between that, I’ll shroud my statues to represent the Eyes being “gone”. This is taking the place of the Sailing Holiday I’ve done in previous years, and follows the same general format, with votive offerings before they leave and celebration when they return. I’ll post some photos of that below, but first, the short message from Bast and Sekhmet for this month’s Bright Moon:
“We are leaving soon, but when we return we will bring good things back with us. Celebrate and rejoice, life is meant to be enjoyed!”
The first day, I offered the white cloths I’ll be using to wrap the statues, alongside my usual Bright Moon offerings of food, drink, incense, and candlelight.
The second day, I added the boat, and gave another food/drink offering, hot cocoa, which you can see on the far right edge.
For the third day, I offered golden origami lilies, as votive offerings, and I placed them in the boat.
The statues I wrapped gently and placed them in small boxes, where they will stay until the next part of the holiday, She is Led Back.
This is a prayer I just wrote for my 3-day Solstice working for Na Morrigna. It’s a little rough, still, but it was written in a fit of inspiration a few moments ago. I may edit it later, but this is the version I used today, and will be using tomorrow and the following day.
My Samhain Season began with my transition into darkness, timed to the heliacal rise of Spica (a star or multi-star system in the constellation Virgo) on October 24th, the same day as the full moon. The timing was something I discovered by accident, as I fell down a rabbit hole of faery holidays and stellar timing following Morgan Daimler’s revelations about the Pleaides. Spica seems to be closely associated with my Faery Queen, Starflower, and she has a sort of light-in-darkness and darkness-in-light balance to her energies that reminds me of the Chinese yin yang symbol. I had noticed on previous years that her transition into darkness happened before November Eve, but this year I really dove into star charts and paid careful attention and though I believe her transition from light to darkness is somewhat gradual, the bulk of the transition seems to occur between the heliacal rise of Spica (when it rises before the sun) and when Spica is at its zenith in conjunction with the sun, which happens much closer to November Eve. (I’m still not 100% clear on whether it’s the zenith at noon or the sun conjunction that matters more, but the zenith at noon was easier to calculate: October 30th this year.)
Hallowed Homecoming, which was the subject of my previous blog post, began my ancestor work and my work with the Morrigna. For the Ancestor Altar there, I prepared a small charm box, in a repurposed Sucrets container. (I’m a huge fan of witchy upcycling.) Inside I placed a sodalite stone from an incomplete rune set carved with Othala, a fortune from a fortune cookie that bore the phrase “missing you” in English and Chinese, and a purple paper heart into which I spoke the names of some of my most beloved ancestors. It spent the weekend on that altar, among other tokens and pictures, and then it came home with me to my own ancestor shrine.
I did very little on the 31st. We passed out candy, and though I expected to pull cards for my Crow Folk, I was told I had to Wait. So, I worked on memorizing some more of the chants for the ritual I was helping plan, and I waited. I did not feel called to pull cards to speak to any of my ancestors, either – I had received the messages that were most important during the main ritual at Hallowed Homecoming.
On the 2nd of November, I attended a Memorial and solidarity Shabbat Service at a local synagogue with my husband’s family, and that was an especially poignant evening of Ancestral Communion. It was also a much needed balm for my grief, and I came away glad for the community I live in, and wishing that my own faith was better represented in it.
On the 3rd, I gathered with some friends at a friend’s house, and together the nine of us had a ritual to the Morrigna, which was powerful despite our greenness and small number. Afterwards we had a pot luck, and there was an ancestor shrine set up in one room for people to visit and take time at. My little sucrets container sat among other tokens for another evening.
Now it is the 7th, the day of the Dark Moon, and my Samhain season comes to a close. I am finishing these blogs as the sun goes down, and then I will pull cards and dream on them, seeking a message from the Morrigna. Tomorrow, I will write up a blog for the Dark Moon, and I will begin to pull cards for all the Crow Folks who have requested them.